FRINGE DIARY 2011: That Strangest of Loves

26/09/2011 at 3:36 pm 1 comment

I haven’t seen any Sydney Fringe Festival shows this year, I’m afraid to say. But that’s because I have been performing in one, which has gloriously consumed me for the past few weeks. Short runs are a strange beast. One week ago we were frantically teching and bumping in, and now it’s all but done, the post performance glow that leaves a bittersweet ache in the heart. Such a short and passionate affair, and when it’s over almost before it has begun… not heartbreaking, heartwarming, but haunting… Part and parcel of coming together with an ensemble in a few short months, getting to know them, and together making a series of sold out audiences laugh and cry, and respond, and reflect, and think about their own lives… and then go home and weep with the joy of being. Weep with truth. It’s been exhilarating.

This show is all the more resonant for me due to the content, the response from the audiences and incredible courage brought to bear by the cast and crew. All of whom I now miss terribly, even though it’s been barely 24 hours, it’s that strangest of loves that comes with a theatre of connection, of passion for storytelling, for performing, for giving oneself to an audience without quarter. The pin-drop silences. The hairs standing up on my arms and neck in the moments the show opens to another intimate full house. I got the part after a whim to go and practise a monologue in an audition – since that’s a great way to hone one’s craft, (it’s always good to get out and muck around in an audition room and have some fun whether one gets the role or not) – and went in on instinct, on a principle of saying yes to things; without knowing a thing about the play. Other than the title and an inkling that the cast were going to be good to work with… And when I’m right, I’m right.

It took a little while, but through the usual patchwork of schedules we all got comfortable over the four weeks of rehearsal. It’s a challenging play, and intense to work on, so trust was mandatory, but only in the final week were we all really able to come together and feel this play as a whole. Then the usual disastrous dress rehearsals and a tech that would make your hair turn white if you weren’t holding absolute faith in the production and yourself – and then a final dress and then a first preview of a new Australian play… I have commented before how the preview is special as it’s the audience’s turn to become a part of the journey for the first time and in the rush of all that – anything can happen.

Within about ten minutes of the preview starting one of our actors was somehow bleeding gently from the face. And we kept going. And the audience thought it was makeup and stayed with us. And we took them to a place that I don’t think anyone expected to end up. In the courage of forgetting everything of rehearsal in that first live show and simply living the play, we found that the production we reckoned was pretty good was actually really fucking amazing. From that point on it was simple. As the song goes: Helter Skelter. I have never seen a group of actors so willing to hold back less and less as we discovered more and more about ourselves, together, with a series of packed audiences in situ.

I’m not going to name drop the production, or the actors involved, you are all beautiful, you know who you are. That’s not why I’m writing this (although I hope to share that strangest of feelings I have today, and by expressing it, to live the moral core of the work we’ve been making) – I write this to put it out there that a theatre of truth is a powerful, unshakeable beast, and to any aspirational writers, performers or artists of any kind, to put everything you can into a work. To say yes. To speak your fears.

That’s what it’s all about. And for the audiences who came to support us, and were so giving with their responses, their warmth, their titters, chuckles, belly laughs and tears. Thanks. As it should be. And now it’s done, and now I’m left with a great space in my creative life, made by the ever expanding love for total strangers, people who I now can’t imagine having never met… The strangest of loves: no matter how many times I try to leave her, theatre never stops loving me back.

Entry filed under: Inside Theatre PROCESS, Stuff I Like, Sydney THEATRE. Tags: , , , , .


1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Rodrigo Aper  |  29/09/2011 at 6:42 am

    “To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.” ~ Bertrand Russell


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